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JAMAICA | PNP Wants MOCA to Investigate PETROJAM Scandal

Featured JAMAICA | PNP Wants MOCA to Investigate  PETROJAM Scandal
KINGSTON, Jamaica, June 20, 2018: The People’s National Party (PNP) says it is time for the Major Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption agency (MOCA) to be called in to investigate the situation at PetroJam Limited, as there are clear indications of what may possibly be fraudulent transactions in the documentation available to the public so far.

The PNP says the investigation must look specifically into at least two instances of reimbursement of expenses to former chairman Perceval Bahado-Singh for travel and related expenses which he did not undertake.

The chairman was scheduled to participate in two meetings in London and Brazil but did not attend either of them. Although he was absent from the meetings, he reportedly submitted claims and was refunded by PetroJam for air fares and per diem related to the trips.

In the case of the London trip, Mr Bahado-Singh was reimbursed and originally accepted US$8,910.48 for travel expenses although he missed the meeting and in relation to his Brazil claim, PetroJam reimbursed him US$7,873.28; but he did not attend.

The other instance of highly questionable activity relates to the agreement between PetroJam Limited and Asha Corporation for Financial Analyses and Managerial Services for which payments were made by direct wire transfers to the US$ National Commercial Bank account of one Rodney Davis based on invoices dated October 15, 2017, November 16, 2017 and November 20, 2017.

The PNP said PetroJam facilitated the direct payment to Rodney Davis, despite the fact that the invoices were presented on R2 Financial Advisors letterhead and signed by Mr Davis on behalf of Asha Corporation. What is the relationship, if any, between R2 Financial Advisors and Asha Corporation? Mr Rodney Davis’ own online information shows that he severed ties with Asha Corporation in 2016.

In their testimony last week before the PAAC, PetroJam confirmed a contractual arrangement with Asha Corporation and not R2 Financial Advisors.

Based on the invoices, Mr Davis, has no direct consultancy contract with PetroJam and was not legally connected to that company at the time of the payments. Asha Corporation is registered in Ontario, Canada since May 2015, but there is also no local registration information available for Asha Corporation.

At a minimum, PetroJam must produce its due diligence findings on Asha Corporation prior to its engagement with the company and provide an explanation for payments being made to a person other than the contracted entity.

Finally, the circumstances of the cost overrun in the construction of a wall at PetroJam require forensic analysis to determine the cause of the gigantic spread between the estimate provided by the National Works Agency (NWA) of $29.7 million and the actual construction figure of $91 million, a $61 million overrun which went unchecked and without the necessary intervening oversight and approvals.

It is on these bases that the Party rejects the tasking of the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology, Ms Hillary Alexander to conduct the investigation in this sordid matter as a proper response by the government.

In the meantime, the attrition continues with the resignation of more critical personnel including a manager involved in a major project at the entity. Its understood that the Project Manager for the Vacuum Distillation Unit (VDU) project Chevril Shaw, and the Senior Supervisor in charge of Reliability and Maintenance, Roderick Codner have both resigned effective June 30.

The Vacuum Distillation Unit is part of the oil-refining process that will help to produce petroleum products out of heavy oils. The fuel produced from the VDU will be used for the bunkering industry and the production of asphalt.
 
News of the departure of two senior employees comes a week after members of Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) raised concerns about the high staff turnover at Petrojam. 
 
Meanwhile, the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE), which represents workers at Petrojam, has said the Board must act quickly to correct the problems at the entity.
 
According to John Levy, the union's general secretary, there are several issues, such as the attrition rate of the staff, which need immediate attention.                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                   -30-

Last modified onWednesday, 20 June 2018 23:09
  • Countries: Jamaica

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